ALBIREX NIIGATA 0
HOUGANG UNITED 1
(Geison Moura 50)
Hougang United made it a double over Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League darkhorses Albirex Niigata last night, and it was no fluke.
The Cheetahs' 3-1 win over the Japanese side in March raised a few eyebrows, but they proved the result was no a flash in the pan with another victory, this time at the White Swans' own Jurong East Stadium.
Hougang's Brazilian combination of Diego Gama and Geison Moura produced the knockout blow in the 50th minute.
Gama showed strength to hold off Shuhei Hotta in the box, before crossing for Moura to nod home from close range.
Albirex's hopes of a revival were all but extinguished when Kento Fujihara and Itsuki Yamada wasted good opportunities in a 10-minute second half-spell.
In truth, it was a scrappy match and the imperious form of Hougang skipper and centre back Igor Cerina meant Albirex had few sights at goal.
Cheetahs' coach Amin Nasir admitted his game plan was to stifle the technically-accomplished Japanese players.
"I told our boys to make sure we don't let Albirex play their normal passing game," said the former Singapore defender. "If you allow them to control the game, they will punish you.
"It was not easy for us, but we were disciplined, stuck to our plan and got the goal we needed."
Albirex coach Tatsuyuki Okuyama cut a gloomy figure after the game.
His side are now eight points behind DPMM having played one more match.
When asked if Hougang's tactics frustrated him, he shook his head and said: "You can see it (employed by) many teams in many matches.
"I'm more frustrated and disappointed at ourselves than that. As a team, we have to pass the ball forward but we couldn't do that tonight, especially in the first half.
"And we had to stop their No. 9 (Gama) from having space in the box, but could not do that and conceded the goal. We gave them that chance."
In last night's other match, Warriors FC kept up the pressure on league leaders DPMM with a 4-2 win over bottom side Harimau Muda B at the Pasir Gudang Stadium.
In a see-saw match, the Warriors took the lead through defender Marin Vidosevic after just four minutes, but fell behind to goals from Naim Zakaria (17th minute) and Ramzi Suffian (27th).
The eight-time S.League champions, however, bounced back with a brace by Nicolas Velez (33rd and 44th minutes), which sandwiched a 39th-minute Miroslav Pejic penalty.
This article was first published on June 06, 2014.
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